U.S. National Institutes of Health

Richard Allen, Bishop of the first African Methodist Episcopal Church, undated

Courtesy Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division, The New York Public Library

Richard Allen and Absalom Jones, both ministers and former slaves, founded the Free African Society in 1787 to provide social services to free people of color in Philadelphia. This experience prepared the Society to respond to yellow fever on behalf of all Philadelphians.